Addiction Research at Brookhaven

History: In 1987, Brookhaven National Laboratory became the first research institution to use positron emission tomography (PET) and other medical imaging techniques to investigate the brain mechanisms underlying drug addiction.

Addiction Research Press Releases
 

brain volumeDrinking Alcohol Shrinks Critical Brain Regions in Genetically Vulnerable Mice - 2/15/2012
Brain scans of two strains of mice imbibing significant quantities of alcohol reveal serious shrinkage in some brain regions — but only in mice lacking a particular type of receptor for dopamine, the brain’s “reward” chemical.
 

brain scanGray Matter in Brain’s Control Center Linked to Ability to Process Reward - 11/29/2011
Study is first to show link between structure and function in healthy people, and the impairment of both structure and function in people addicted to cocaine.
 

cocaineCocaine Images Capture Motivated Attention Among Users - 4/4/2011
Researchers have conducted the most comprehensive study to date of how cocaine users respond to drug-related and other emotional stimuli.
 

AlcoholismFirst Direct Evidence that Response to Alcohol Depends on Genes - 10/19/2010
Dopamine receptor deficiency leads to significant brain changes in response to drinking alcohol.
 

Ritalin improves brain functionRitalin Improves Brain Function, Task Performance in Cocaine Abusers - 9/6/2010
Brain-scanning study shows Ritalin improves impaired brain function in people addicted to cocaine, implying it could play a role in facilitating recovery from addiction.
 

Andrew TucciNew Findings Imply Exercise in Adolescence May Help Prevent Drug Abuse - 8/4/2010
Daily physical exercise during adolescence decreases cocaine-seeking behavior in young adult rats, implying that exercise may protect against cocaine abuse later in life.
 

brainEuropean Patent Office Grants Patent for the Use of Vigabatrin/CPP-109 for the Prevention of Addiction to Opioids in Pain Management - 7/9/2010
Catalyst Pharmaceutical Partners, Inc. today announced that the European Patent Office (EPO) granted to BSA/Brookhaven National Laboratory a European patent for the use of vigabatrin for the prevention of addiction to opioids (e.g., oxycodone, hydrocodone) used in pain management.
 

brainCatalyst Pharmaceutical Partners Announces Top-Line Results of CPP-109 Phase II Trial for Cocaine Addiction - 5/29/2009
Catalyst Pharmaceutical Partners, Inc. has announced that data from the trial showed that CPP-109 did not demonstrate statistical significance in the primary endpoint -- that a significantly larger proportion of CPP-109-treated subjects than placebo-treated subjects were cocaine-free during the last two weeks of the treatment period (Weeks 11 and 12).
 

brain imageRecent Drug Use Masks Cocaine Abusers' Cognitive Impairment - 3/3/2009
Recent cocaine use may hide some of the cognitive deficits commonly experienced by individuals addicted to cocaine, scientists at Brookhaven report in a study published in the April 2009 issue of Neuropsychopharmacology -- a special issue dedicated to cocaine research. The study was part of an effort to better understand individual differences among cocaine-addicted subjects to help clinicians develop more effective treatment plans.
 

PET Scan ImageMethamphetamine Enters Brain Quickly and Lingers - 10/13/2008
Using positron emission tomography (PET) to track tracer doses of methamphetamine in humans’ brains, scientists at Brookhaven Lab find that the addictive and long-lasting effects of this increasingly prevalent drug can be explained in part by its pharmacokinetics — the rate at which it enters and clears the brain, and its distribution.
 

GVGAddiction Treatment Proves Successful in Animal Weight Loss Study - 8/20/2008
Vigabatrin, a medication proposed as a potential treatment for drug addiction by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, also leads to rapid weight loss and reduced food intake according to a new animal study from the same research group.
 

brainBrookhaven Scientists Explore Brain's Reaction to Potent Hallucinogen - 4/28/2008
Brain-imaging studies performed in animals at Brookhaven National Laboratory provide researchers with clues about why an increasingly popular recreational drug that causes hallucinations and motor-function impairment in humans is abused.
 

addiction imageGene Therapy Reduces Cocaine Use in Rats - 4/16/2008
Researchers at Brookhaven Lab have shown that increasing the brain level of receptors for dopamine, a pleasure-related chemical, can reduce use of cocaine by 75 percent in rats trained to self-administer it. Earlier research by this team had similar findings for alcohol intake.
 

Brain Scan ImageCocaine's Effects on Brain Metabolism May Contribute to Abuse - 2/18/2008
Many studies on cocaine addiction have focused on dopamine transporters, proteins that reabsorb the brain's "reward" chemical once its signal is sent. Since cocaine blocks dopamine transporters from doing their recycling job, it leaves the feel-good chemical around to keep sending the pleasure signal. Now a new study conducted at Brookhaven Lab suggests that cocaine's effects go beyond the dopamine system.
 

Catalyst LogoCatalyst Pharmaceutical Partners Begins Enrollment for its U.S. Phase II Clinical Trial of CPP-109 in Patients With Cocaine Addiction - 1/25/2008
Catalyst Pharmaceutical Partners, Inc. announced today that it has initiated enrollment of patients for its 180-patient, U.S. Phase II clinical trial evaluating the use of CPP-109 in treating patients with cocaine addiction. CPP-109, an orally administered, small molecule drug which inhibits psychostimulant-induced dopamine release, is Catalyst's lead compound, vigabatrin.
 

brainOverweight People May Not Know When They've Had Enough - 1/9/2008
Researchers at Brookhaven have found new clues to why some people overeat and gain weight while others don't. Examining how the human brain responds to "satiety" messages delivered when the stomach is in various stages of fullness, the scientists have identified brain circuits that motivate the desire to overeat.
 

Catalyst LogoCatalyst Pharmaceutical Partners Announces Positive Phase II Trial Results for Vigabatrin in the Treatment of Cocaine Addiction - 12/7/2007
Catalyst Pharmaceutical Partners, Inc. (Nasdaq: CPRX), a biopharmaceutical company that acquires, in-licenses, develops and commercializes prescription drugs for the treatment of drug addiction, today announced positive initial top-line results from an investigator-initiated Phase II double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, which demonstrates that vigabatrin is effective for the treatment of cocaine addiction. Catalyst's lead compound, CPP-109, is bioequivalent to vigabatrin.
 

photo of goldsteinCocaine Abuse Blunts Sensitivity to Monetary Reward - 11/7/2007
New measurements of brain activity in individuals addicted to cocaine confirm that addicted individuals have compromised sensitivity to monetary rewards.
 

mouse brainD-Cycloserine Reduces Cocaine-Seeking Behavior in "Addicted" Mice - 11/6/2007
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory provide further evidence that a drug known as D-cycloserine could play a role in helping to extinguish the craving behaviors associated with drug addiction.
 

dopamineFood Restriction Increases Dopamine Receptor Levels in Obese Rats - 10/25/2007
A brain-imaging study of genetically obese rats conducted at Brookhaven provides more evidence that dopamine - a brain chemical associated with reward, pleasure, movement, and motivation - plays a role in obesity. Scientists found that genetically obese rats had lower levels of dopamine D2 receptors than lean rats. They also demonstrated that restricting food intake can increase the number of D2 receptors, partially attenuating a normal decline associated with aging.
 

brainADHD Appears to Be Associated With Depressed Dopamine Activity in the Brain - 8/6/2007
Adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) show a blunted response to the drug methylphenidate (Ritalin), which increases brain dopamine levels. This suggests that dopamine dysfunction may be involved with ADHD symptoms and may contribute to substance abuse that often occurs simultaneously.
 

Catalyst LogoCatalyst Pharmaceutical Partners, Inc. Initiates U.S. Phase II Clinical Trial of CPP-109 in Patients With Cocaine Dependence - 7/10/2007
Catalyst Pharmaceutical Partners, Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company that acquires or in-licenses, develops and commercializes prescription drugs for the treatment of drug addiction, today announced that it has initiated its randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled U.S. Phase II clinical trial of CPP-109 in patients with cocaine dependence. CPP-109, an orally administered, small molecule drug which inhibits psychostimulant-induced dopamine release, is Catalyst's lead compound, vig
 

BrainDoes Stimulant Treatment for ADHD Increase Risk of Drug Abuse? - 6/18/2007
Parents, doctors, and others have wondered whether common treatments for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) inadvertently predispose adolescents to future drug abuse. The answer may depend on the age at which treatment is started and how long it lasts, say the authors of a new brain-imaging and behavioral study conducted in animals at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
 

David SchlyerBrookhaven Lab Chemist to Discuss 'Imaging Drug Addiction' at Harborfields Public Library, June 28 - 5/25/2007
David Schlyer, a chemist at Brookhaven Lab, will give a talk titled "Imaging Drug Addiction" on Thursday, June 28, at 7:30 p.m. at Harborfields Public Library. Sponsored by the Science Club of Long Island, the talk is free and open to the public.
 

WangBrookhaven Lab Scientist to Speak at Harborfields Public Library on Brain Chemistry and Compulsive Overeating, March 21 - 2/21/2007
Gene-Jack Wang, Chair of the Medical Department at Brookhaven National Laboratory, will give a talk titled "The Brain Chemistry-Compulsive Overeating Connection" at Harborfields Public Library in Greenlawn, Long Island, on Wednesday, March 21, at 7:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Science Club of Long Island, the talk is free and open to the public.
 

BrainAddiction and the Brain: Are We Hard-Wired to Abuse Drugs? - 2/12/2007
At the 2007 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a panel of world-renowned neuroscientists will present recent advances in brain-imaging that have revolutionized our understanding of addiction as a chronic disease. The addiction symposium is sponsored by Brookhaven National Laboratory, and will be preceded by a AAAS news briefing highlighting key speakers and findings.
 

Brain imageHigh Dopamine Transporter Levels Not Correlated with ADHD - 11/29/2006
Results from a brain-imaging study conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory in collaboration with Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York indicate that levels of a brain protein proposed as a diagnostic marker for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are not positively correlated with the disease. In fact, the study found lower levels of these "dopamine transporter" proteins in certain brain regions of ADHD patients compared with controls.
 

Rita GoldsteinAltered Perception of Reward in Human Cocaine Addiction - 10/15/2006
People addicted to cocaine have an impaired ability to perceive rewards and exercise control due to disruptions in the brain's reward and control circuits, according to a series of brain-mapping studies and neuropsychological tests conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory.
 

BrainStudy Offers New Clues to Brain-Stomach Interaction in Overeating - 10/2/2006
Researchers at Brookhaven have found new clues to how the brain and the stomach interact with emotions to cause overeating and obesity. By looking at how the human brain responds to "fullness" messages sent to the brain, the scientists have identified brain circuits that motivate the desire to overeat in the obese - the same circuits that cause addicted individuals to crave drugs.
 

Joanna FowlerDeveloping Radiotracers for Imaging Studies in Addiction - 9/14/2006
Molecular imaging using positron emission tomography continues to provide new knowledge about how brain circuits are altered by addictive drugs. Brookhaven chemist Joanna Fowler will give a talk on these radiotracers at the 232nd national meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco, California, at 8:25 a.m. Pacific Time on Thursday, September 14, 2006, in Room 270 of the Moscone Convention Center.
 

brainStudy Offers Clues to Brain's Protective Mechanisms Against Alcoholism - 9/4/2006
Why do some people with a strong family history of alcoholism develop alcohol dependency while others do not? A new study provides clues that differing brain chemistry may provide part of the answer. Researchers have found that elevated levels of D2 receptors for dopamine may provide a protective effect for those most at risk for developing alcoholism.
 

Brain imageStudy Reveals Biochemical Signature of Cocaine Craving in Humans - 6/13/2006
Ask anyone who has been addicted to drugs and they'll tell you that the mere sight of someone using their drug of choice (or even people, places, or objects associated with drug use) can trigger an intense desire for the drug. Using sophisticated brain-imaging techniques at Brookhaven National Laboratory, scientists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Brookhaven Lab, and the University of Pennsylvania have uncovered the brain chemistry that underlies such "cue-induced" craving in cocaine
 

addiction imageStudy Examines Role of Cannabinoid Receptors in Alcohol Abuse - 9/7/2005
A new set of experiments in mice confirms that a brain receptor associated with the reinforcing effects of marijuana also helps to stimulate the rewarding and pleasurable effects of alcohol. The research confirms a genetic basis for susceptibility to alcohol abuse and also suggests that drugs designed to block these receptors could be useful in treatment.
 

Brain imageTwo Studies Offer Clues About How Alcoholic Behavior is "Switched" On - 5/9/2005
As part of an ongoing effort to understand the biochemical basis of alcohol abuse, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have published two studies on how modulating receptors for dopamine, chemical "signaler" in the brain's reward circuits, affects drinking behavior in mice and rats.
 

Image of vigabtrinCatalyst Pharmaceutical Partners Says FDA Has Accepted IND Application for CPP-109 to Treat Cocaine Addiction - 1/3/2005
Catalyst Pharmaceutical Partners has announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed its Investigational New Drug Application to evaluate Catalyst's lead compound, CPP-109, as a potential pharmaceutical therapy for treating cocaine addiction. Catalyst received an exclusive worldwide license from Brookhaven Science Associates, operator of Brookhaven National Laboratory, for the use of the drug gamma vigabatrin or GVG for its application in treating drug addiction.
 

Image for GVG storyProposed Addiction Treatment Successful, Safe in Second Small Trial - 11/15/2004
A second, small-scale clinical trial of a proposed addiction treatment originally investigated at Brookhaven National Laboratory has produced favorable results in the treatment of long-term addiction to methamphetamine and/or cocaine, with no visual side effects in any of the 30 patients enrolled.
 

Photo of Stephen DeweyNew Study Shows Hope for Treating Inhalant Abuse - 9/30/2004
A new study by scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory suggests that vigabatrin may block the addictive effects of toluene, a substance found in household products commonly used as inhalants. These results broaden the promise of GVG as a potential treatment for a variety of addictions.
 

Brain scan imageGene Therapy Reduces Drinking in Rats with Genetic Predisposition to "Alcoholism" - 5/5/2004
As a follow up to previous work showing that gene therapy can reduce drinking in rats trained to prefer alcohol, scientists at Brookhaven have used the same technique to cut drinking in rats with a genetic predisposition for heavy alcohol consumption.
 

Brain imageExposure to Food Increases Brain Metabolism - 4/19/2004
Brookhaven scientists have new evidence that brain circuits involved in drug addiction are also activated by the desire for food. The mere display of food causes increases in metabolism throughout the brain.
 

GVG iliiustrationResults From First Clinical Trial Using GVG to Treat Addiction - 9/22/2003
This is the first human clinical data showing that gamma vinyl-GABA (GVG, vigabatrin) holds promise as a pharmacological treatment for cocaine addiction.
 

Brain imageEpilepsy Drug Found to Stop Cocaine's Effects in Animals - 8/5/1998
An inexpensive epilepsy drug may prove to be a highly effective pharmaceutical treatment for cocaine addiction. In addition, preliminary data suggests that it may be useful for the treatment of other addictions.
 



Releases Prior to September, 2003
 

Imaging Study Reveals Effect of Smoking on Peripheral Organs - 9/8/2003
Researchers at Brookhaven, who previously found reduced levels of the enzyme monoamine oxidase B (MAO B) in the brains of smokers, now provide compelling evidence that MAO in peripheral organs is also affected by smoking.

Addicts' Brains Work Harder to Control Behavior - 12/3/2002
A brain-imaging study conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory reveals that recently abstinent methamphetamine abusers who reported they avoided harmful situations had higher resting metabolic rates in a part of the brain responsible for making decisions and modifying behaviors than those with low harm-avoidance scores. In non-addicted, comparison subjects, there was no significant association between harm avoidance and metabolism in this brain region.

New Tool for Studying Animal Models of Neurological and Psychiatric Diseases - 11/5/2002
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have demonstrated that a miniature positron emission tomography (PET) scanner, known as microPET, and the chemical markers used in traditional PET scanning are sensitive enough to pick up subtle differences in neurochemistry between known genetic variants of mice.

More Clues About Obesity Revealed by Brain-Imaging Study - 6/20/2002
The idea that obese people eat too much because they find food more palatable than lean people do has gained support from a new brain-imaging study at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory. The study reveals that the parts of the brain responsible for sensation in the mouth, lips, and tongue are more active in obese people than in normal-weight control subjects.

New Food-Addiction Link Found - 5/20/2002
Scientists at Brookhaven have found that the mere display of food — where food-deprived subjects are allowed to smell and taste their favorite foods without actually eating them — causes a significant elevation in brain dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and reward. This activation of the brain’s dopamine motivation circuits is distinct from the role the brain chemical plays when people actually eat, and may be similar to what addicts experience when craving drugs.

Brain-Imaging Study Offers Clues to Inhalant Abuse - 4/15/2002
Inhalant abuse, also known as “huffing,” is a rapidly growing health problem, particularly among young people. However, little is known about how inhaled chemicals affect the brain and body. Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory — inspired by schoolchildren who wanted to know more about huffing — have produced the first-ever images showing what parts of the brain and body are most affected by toluene, a commonly inhaled solvent.

Study Reveals Differences in Patients’ Response to Ritalin - 3/1/2002
A new brain-imaging study offers insight into why individual patients respond differently to standard doses of Ritalin, a drug used to treat millions of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) each year. The study, conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, appears in the March 1, 2002 issue of the journal Synapse.

Methamphetamine mechanism may knock out brain’s ability to “just say no” - 12/1/2001
A new brain-imaging study at Brookhaven reveals that, compared with people who don’t use drugs, people who abuse methamphetamine have fewer receptors for dopamine, a brain chemical associated with feelings of reward and pleasure.

Brain Shows Ability to Recover From Some Methamphetamine Damage - 12/1/2001
A new brain-imaging study at Brookhaven indicates that some of the damage caused by methamphetamine – a drug abused by ever-increasing numbers of Americans — can be reversed by prolonged abstinence from the drug. The results appear in the December 1, 2001 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

Therapeutic Drug Blocks Nicotine’s Effects on Brain Chemistry - 11/8/2001
Nicotine is widely believed to trigger dependence by elevating certain brain chemicals associated with pleasure and reward. Now, a study in rats at Brookhaven National Laboratory shows that topiramate — a new anticonvulsant drug currently used for the treatment of epilepsy — can block some of the nicotine-triggered changes in brain.

Gene Therapy Reduces Drinking in "Alcoholic" Rats - 9/5/2001
Brookhaven scientists have shown that increasing the level of a brain protein important for transmitting pleasure signals can turn rats that prefer alcohol into light drinkers. The findings may have implications for the prevention and treatment of alcoholism in humans.

Proposed Addiction Treatment Blocks Environment-Triggered Craving - 3/7/2001
Anecdotal reports suggest that addicts crave drugs when they visit places where they've routinely used drugs. Now, a new study conducted at Brookhaven shows that, in animals, such environmental cues trigger measurable increases in dopamine, a brain chemical closely linked with addiction. More importantly, lab scientists demonstrate that a therapeutic agent they've been studying as a potential treatment for addiction completely blocks this environmentally triggered increase in dopamine.

Researchers Document Brain Damage, Reduction in Motor and Cognitive Function from Methamphetamine Abuse - 3/1/2001
Two studies by researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory provide evidence for the first time that abuse of methamphetamine ­- the drug commonly known as "speed" -- is associated with physiological changes in two systems of the human brain. The changes are evident even for abusers who have not taken the drug for a year or more. The studies also found that methamphetamine abusers have reduced cognitive and motor functions, even at one year after quitting the drug.

Scientists Find Link Between Dopamine and Obesity - 2/1/2001
Dopamine, a brain chemical associated with addiction to cocaine, alcohol, and other drugs, may also play an important role in obesity. According to a study by scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory, obese people have fewer receptors for dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps produce feelings of satisfaction and pleasure. The findings imply that obese people may eat more to try to stimulate the dopamine "pleasure" circuits in their brains, just as addicts do by taking drugs.

Study Shows How Ritalin Works - 1/15/2001
New research on Ritalin, a drug prescribed to millions of American children each year with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), shows for the first time how the drug acts in the human brain and why it is so effective. This latest study, on humans, indicates that Ritalin significantly increases levels of dopamine in the brain, thereby stimulating attention and motivational circuits that enhance one's ability to focus and complete tasks.

Brookhaven Lab Awards License to David Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for Potential Addiction Treatment - 9/9/1999
Brookhaven National Laboratory has licensed to David Pharmaceuticals, Inc., of Burlingame, California, the use of the drug vigabatrin for its potential application in treating addiction. Vigabatrin, a drug used to treat epilepsy outside the U.S., may prove to be a highly effective pharmaceutical treatment for cocaine addiction.

Brookhaven Lab and SUNY Stony Brook Researchers Find Chemical Clues to Drug Abuse Vulnerability - 9/1/1999
Why do some people who experiment with drugs become addicted, while others do not? Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook made significant progress in answering that question in a study to be published in the September 1 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Mapping the Root of Cocaine Addiction: Suprising Findings on Drug's Effect in Brain Regions - 1/1/1999
The part of the brain that is abnormal in some people with obsessive-compulsive disorder may also play a key role in craving and abuse of cocaine. And, drug craving is associated more with the right side of the brain than the left.

Epilepsy Drug Stops Nicotine's Effects in Animals - 12/2/1998
Smokers who want to kick the habit may find powerful help from a European epilepsy drug that already has shown promise in treating cocaine's effects in animals, U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson announced today.

Study Shows Pill Form of Ritalin Is Safe and Non-Addictive for Kids - 9/29/1998
New research on Ritalin, a drug prescribed to millions of American children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), indicates that it is safe if taken in pill form for that therapeutic purpose.

Epilepsy Drug Found to Stop Cocaine's Effects in Animals - 8/5/1998
An inexpensive epilepsy drug may prove to be a highly effective pharmaceutical treatment for cocaine addiction. In addition, preliminary data suggests that it may be useful for the treatment of other addictions.

Why Do Addicts Crave Cocaine? New Brain Scan Study May Show Reason - 2/9/1998
In a discovery that strikes at the very heart of cocaine addiction, scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory may have found a clue to why addicts crave the drug so strongly and use it repeatedly.

Why Do People Smoke? Research at Brookhaven Lab Looks Beyond Nicotine - 2/21/1996
Nicotine may not be the only tobacco smoke ingredient that hooks smokers into addiction. In the first report of a distinct biochemical effect triggered in the brain by cigarette smoke, Brookhaven scientists have found that smokers have a greatly reduced level of a crucial brain enzyme.

 

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Last Modified: May 20, 2009
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